Aug 052008
Authors: Sean Reed

Oops, he did it again.

Last week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain released his latest attack ad against his presumptive Democratic opponent Barack Obama — and it’s even better than the new Batman movie.

The ad, which compares Sen. Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, calls him “the biggest celebrity in the world” and again asks Americans that tough question that former Democratic Hillary Clinton failed to ingrain into the national consciousness — “is he ready to lead?”

Obviously, the McCain camp thinks not. But why?

Well, for one, Obama does come off to many as more of a celebrity than a politician. Just look at his campaign events.

Big crowds, loud music and throngs of people screaming his name.

At an event I attended in Iowa following the caucus results his stage show even included an urban dance group and drum corps.

Compare that with a John McCain speaking engagement — small, dignified and about as exciting as an 8 a.m. Comp. class.

McCain, obviously, can’t match Obama for energy when it comes to campaign event, so he’s doing the next best thing — deriding him for it and turning it into a weakness.

It’s the same thing Bush and Co. did to former Democratic candidate John Kerry, but slightly less — well — evil.

As if being popular and good at speaking wasn’t enough evidence of Obama’s inability to lead, though, McCain’s ad takes a second, more dramatic jab: Barack Obama wants to increase our dependency on foreign oil and raise taxes on electricity.

Now, this would be a damning claim if it were true. Unfortunately, the facts don’t really support either conclusion.

The assertion that Obama will increase our dependence on foreign oil is based on his opposition to offshore drilling as a means to find new sources of oil.

While it is true Obama opposes offshore drilling, he does have a plan to make our nation more independent of foreign oil.

His plan involves a myriad of measures to increase fuel economy standards and invest in alternative energy research, according to his Web site.

It is true that offshore drilling could alleviate some of the need to buy foreign oil in the short term, but as a long-term solution it just isn’t viable — especially when the environmental ramifications of continued use of fossil fuels is considered.

We need a long-term solution that will end our dependence on oil period — foreign or domestic.

As for the claim that Obama wants to raise taxes on electricity, as could be expected, it’s only half true.

According to the New York Times, the McCain camp cited a February 2008 interview published in the San Antonio Express-News in which Obama stated a desire to tax what he called “dirty energy” — mainly coal and to some extent natural gas.

Good research is either not McCain’s strong suit or — and in a presidential race I can’t fault him for this — he simply doesn’t care to present a fair look at his opponent.

Either way, the recent proliferation of attack ads proves one thing about McCain — he’s sweating.

His campaign lacks both the excitement and momentum of Obama’s, and, rather than work to energize his base, he has to resort to casting stones.

The problem is, for all his taunts and jabs, every attack ad thus far has only made him look bad in the national press.

Instead of taking cheap shots, McCain should focus his energy on letting his potential constituents know what he stands for.

Or maybe that’s just what he’s afraid of.

Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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